Dani Dayan: Ambassador for Apartheid
Israel's new Consul General to New York, Dani Dayan, speaking in March 2016. Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90
- Dayan, who was born in Argentina and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1971 at the age of fifteen, lives on occupied Palestinian land in the settlement of Ma'ale Shomron in the northern West Bank. Ma’ale Shomron, like all Israeli settlements built on occupied land, is illegal under international law and contravenes longstanding official US policy.
- From 2007 to 2013, Dayan was chairman of the Yesha Council, which represents Israeli settlers living in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. In 2013, he resigned and took up a new position, which he created, as the settler movement’s “chief foreign envoy.” In that role, Dayan courted foreign media, seeking to sanitize Israel’s repressive and discriminatory, nearly half-century-old military occupation regime, and to improve international public opinion of settlers by projecting an image of moderation and sophistication.
- Although he publicly condemned attacks by settlers against Palestinians, during his tenure as head of the Yesha Council settler violence skyrocketed. In July 2012, the UN and a group of human rights organizations issued a report documenting a sharp increase in the number of settler attacks against Palestinians and their property in the preceding years. According to the report, violent settler attacks against Palestinians increased approximately 150% each year between 2008 and 2012, with 154 attacks in the first half of 2012 alone.
- In August 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked controversy by naming Dayan as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil. In December, Israeli media reported that Brazil’s government had angrily rejected the appointment, citing Dayan’s role as a leader of Israel’s settlement enterprise, which Brazil and the rest of the international community consider to be illegal.
- In March 2016, Dayan was appointed Israel’s Consul General to New York. In a TV interview just days before the announcement, Dayan attacked J Street, a liberal Zionist US advocacy group that describes itself as “pro-Israel” and “pro-Peace,” calling it “un-Jewish.”
Opposition to Palestinian Self-Determination & the Two-State Solution
- Dayan categorically opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories or self-determination of any kind for Palestinians inside historic Palestine. In July 2012, The New York Times published an op-ed by Dayan, entitled “Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay.” In it, Dayan rejected the international community’s “vain attempts to attain the unattainable two-state solution.”
- In January 2015, Dayan boasted that due to settlement growth during his time as head of the Yesha Council, the two-state solution, which has been the basis of US and international efforts to make peace in the region for decades, was no longer possible, telling an interviewer: “I am convinced that at some point in my tenure as chairman, the settlement [enterprise] in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] became irreversible.” In the same interview, Dayan claimed he had defeated US President Barack Obama by undermining his administration's efforts to freeze settlement construction as a step towards resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
- Instead of the two-state solution, or a single state with equal rights for all its citizens, Dayan has proposed making Israel’s control over the occupied territories permanent while maintaining the status quo of denying millions of Palestinians who live there their freedom and basic rights – a situation many, including at least four former Israeli prime ministers, have called apartheid. This would be followed at some point in the future by the creation of a Palestinian state in neighboring Jordan, one of only two Arab states that Israel has a peace treaty with. (In a 2012 interview, Dayan called Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein “an ugly 18-year-old boy with glasses.”) Palestinians who chose to remain in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, would continue to live under Israeli control but vote in elections in this new Palestinian state. As for tiny, occupied and besieged Gaza, Dayan has suggested it should constitute a separate Palestinian state, apart from the one that would replace Jordan.